Where others have long since died, this scrappy little zombie game goes from strength to strength.
Dying Light is one of those games that did better than expected and survived longer than anyone would have predicted. Fitting for a game that gives you only a rebar and running shoes and asks you to fight for your life.
It originally released at the start of 2015, a week before 2K’s Evolve, a game with a higher marketing budget, more hype and the pedigree of a developer loved for its multiplayer innovation. But Evolve stumbled out of the block and fell flat on its face. Dying Light is still slogging across the map.
When Dying Light first came out it was a simple open world game with parkour and first-person melee combat. It’s a game that shouldn’t have worked. Everyone was playing shooters weren’t they? Didn’t we all have zombie fatigue? But Dying Light’s developer Techland clearly had ambition for its game. And publisher Warner, for all its faults with Batman and Mortal Kombat, continued to support Dying Light as its slowly changed into a different game.
If you bought into Dying Light on day one you’ve not been neglected. It’s still a single-player or co-op game but it’s added content constantly throughout the past year. We celebrate the likes of Destiny for its weekly updates, events, DLC and new locations, but Dying Light has been doing the same and living under the radar of many.
It began with plenty of hidden content, from daft easter eggs to useful OP weapons. Designed to keep the players exploring well after the basic campaign is finished. Not soon after Techland began to drop free content, starting with new skins and Hard mode.
Not all content has been free, but alongside paid DLC there’s been a steady stream of additions, including 50 new weapons, the Be The Zombie mode and the Bozak Horde. For the PC players, as well as encouraging mods from the off, Techland also released dev tools for custom maps and more. It did not want you to stop playing and it gave reason to stick around, hosting special event weekends during the lean summer months.
In a market that milks the player for small change, Techland’s commitment helped it hit 5 million sales by August last year. And now with Dying Light: The Following – Enhanced Edition, the zombie survival game gets a defibrillator to the chest. If Dying Light was the game that shouldn’t have worked, The Following is the expansion you didn’t know you wanted.
I was wrong about the original Dying Light. I was too harsh on the game and have since gone back and started playing it again, sometimes in co-op with strangers. Because why not? The features and depth are there. And now I’m ready for the The Following expansion.
For a new map said to be bigger than the original game, The Following moves from a cramped city to a more open countryside. It throws away your running shoes and instead hands you the keys to a buggy. Where you once electrified a baseball bat and swung other improvised junk, you now turn your vehicle into your weapon of choice.
We’ll know exactly how that pans out next week when the new version of the game is released, but along with multiple enhancements to the game, it sounds like a completely new way to play Dying Light. And Techland’s support so far is every indication it will deliver on its promises.
That old model of releasing a game followed by three chunks of DLC before forgetting all about it seems so out of date; so much so that games like Titanfall gave up and handed its content out for free. But Dying Light is another one of those games that has embraced the the idea of keeping a game alive through not just paid DLC, but with events, with free stuff, with tweaks and extras. It joins Destiny and GTA 5 as a game that has evolved into this generation, adapting to the way people play and suck up new content rather than forcing them down a route predetermined well before release.
Games like Evolve and Titanfall burned out so quickly. We stood around looking at our empty hands asking what’s next. One year from release and Dying Light has turned into The Following. And from next week there will also be daily challenges and bounties. And then Techland’s adding the best PC mods to the console version of the game. That’s just the stuff we know about. Dying Light’s heart is beating strong and its sprinting its way into 2016.
Dying Light: The Following – Enhanced Edition is due for release from February 9